You get in what you put out. That’s the old saying, at least. The Pittsburgh Steelers spent plenty of time at training camp this year working on their two minute offense. Heck, it was the very last series they ran in Latrobe, a touchdown pass from Mason Rudolph to JuJu Smith-Schuster. All that work seems to be translating into regular season success. There aren’t many teams running a crisper two-minute offense than the Steelers.
Mike Tomlin was asked what has made that aspect of this offense so successful this year. He cited the practice time dedicated to it.
“We work it hard,” Tomlin said during his press conference. “You guys watch us in training camp. We work it every two or three days. You have an expectation when you work the way that we work in that area, specifically. Hopefully our guys have that expectation as well. I know the results are indicative of those expectations as well.”
Numbers don’t lie. For the end of the first half, the Steelers are tied for the league lead with four touchdowns. Only the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers have as many. The Steelers rank third in total yards during that time and the league leader in first down percentage (39.1%).
That began in Week Two, as part of their attempted comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger hit James Washington for a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining before the break. The Steelers followed that up with a masterful drive as part of their 30 point first half outburst against the Bucs, Roethlisberger finding Ryan Switzer along the left sideline for a one-yard score. James Conner dove in from one yard out versus Cincinnati while the Steelers put together another long drive Sunday against Cleveland, ending in a one-yard screen to Antonio Brown for the score.
Throughout all of 2017, the Steelers had only three such scoring drives. They’ve already passed up that number and odds are, they’ll do laps around it the rest of the way.
“When you put time into something, you expect the result of that work. And I think we’re getting it in that area.”
Why the difference? That’s more difficult to say. A change in offensive coordinator could play a role, of course. Roethlisberger might have more control over the situation, not in who is making the call – it’s been Ben whether Haley or Fichtner is in charge – but the Rolodex of plays prepped for him and the offense. It’s no secret Fichtner has let Roethlisberger run what’s more comfortable to him than Haley did.
Regardless, it’s working and in a big way. And a hidden factor for why the Steelers still rank in the top five in points per game, a status they achieved only once under Haley.